SLIP SLIDING AWAY
Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
JANUARY 31, 2016
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
— Matthew 24:29-44, ESV
Books have been written about it. Movies have been made about it. Believers and unbelievers talk about it. Yet the word “rapture” is not included in any version of the Bible.
This doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. “Trinity” is a word not mentioned verbatim in the Bible, either, but everywhere it is written that the one true and living God reveals Himself in the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So it is with “rapture,” an event described as the joyful rising of the people of God to meet the synonymous second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophets point to it (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Amos, Joel), the Apostle Paul definitively describes it (ref. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), and the book of Revelation paints a perfect picture of it.
But perhaps the best place in the Bible to study the rapture and the second coming of Christ is the last sermon Jesus preached during his first coming, the “Olivet Discourse.” Already we have looked at the birth pains (ref. Matthew 24:1-14) and the signs of the times (ref. Matthew 24:15-28) which precede the rapture. Now we shall take a look at the rapture itself in Matthew 24:29-44.
The Rapture is Public, Not Secret
As a young Christian in Baptist churches, most of what I heard about the rapture was a secret. In other words, I was taught it would be a secret event whereby Jesus would come back in secret and Christians on the planet would secretly disappear. Other people would simply look around dumbfounded, while cars crashed and planes fell from the sky. Sermons described the event in this way, speculative books and cheesy movies have been made depicting a so-called secret rapture, and there is even a new television series, The Leftovers, which tries to imagine it on non-religious terms.
Look at the way Jesus describes it in His stellar sermon. There will be falling stars, a shaking universe, an ear-splitting trumpet, and everybody on earth will watch as Jesus appears “with power and great glory.” John concurs at the beginning of The Revelation by telling us there will be really nothing secret about it (ref. Revelation 1:7). You’d have a much better chance of keeping the Super Bowl a secret than you would the second coming of Jesus Christ!
Look at what else is revealed, too. “Tribulation” will take place before the rapture, not after it. The birth pains and signs of these times have already been noted in the previous paragraphs. Furthermore, they have been virtually fulfilled on the present world stage. When the rapture happens, “the elect” will be ushered by the angels into the safety and salvation of the Lord. That’s us, the people of God, who were chosen by God by grace before creation and chose to follow Christ by faith in life. Left behind will be unbelievers, nominal believers, hypocritical believers, and those who believed in the wrong gods. The real secret is that it is not secret, but public and final, and there won’t be any second chances for the lost and left behind to come to Christ after the rapture.
The Rapture is a Certainty, Not a Possibility
Admittedly, different Christians paint varying pictures of the rapture with contrasting tribulational and millennial colors highlighted with pre, mid, and post hues. It is possible that my plain rendering of this text is not as accurate as more learned colleagues. But while different views of the rapture are a possibility, the second coming of Jesus Christ is an absolute, biblical certainty.
The Old Testament prophets made many proclamations concerning the first coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They plainly stated that God Himself would come to us as baby born to a virgin mother in the tiny town of Bethlehem, grow to be a perfect man performing miracles and preaching the kingdom of God, then die as a result of crucifixion before rising again and returning to Heaven. This did not probably happen. This certainly happened!
The second coming of Jesus is not a speculation, it is not a probability, it too is an absolute certainty, because it was spoken by the Son of God Himself and written in the infallible word of God, which “will not pass away.”
Again, while various scenarios of the end times are a possibility, the event itself is certain to take place after “all these things” Jesus foretold have come to pass with “this generation” on the scene. But to what does “all these things” and “this generation” refer? “All these things” harkens to the birth pains and signs of the times addressed in the previous two paragraphs, which have happened or are happening now. The certainty of “this generation” which will actually witness the rapture is a little harder to define.
The answer must be found in the “fig tree,” an often used symbol in the Bible depicting the nation of Israel. In the Gospels, Jesus curses a “fig tree” to symbolize the end of the Old Covenant and beginning of the New. Yet when the New Covenant is brought to an end with the rapture of the church and return of Christ, the “fig tree” is still perpetually planted on the earth.
While the nation of Israel no longer plays a part in soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), it still has a significant place on the stage of eschatology (the doctrine of the end times). The Jews will be a viable and visible people when Christ comes again, which in itself is a prophetic miracle. Since the first coming of the Messiah, the Jewish people have survived two millennia of destruction, persecution, dispersion, and attempted annihilation. Though they are not God’s people, and desperately need to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, they are still the generation who bore the law, the writings, the prophets, and the Messiah and King, who came and is certainly coming again, the Lord Jesus Christ!
I am appreciative of the late, great Bishop J.C. Ryle’s “Expository Thoughts from the Gospel of Matthew” for this understanding, and he wrote at the turn of the 20th century, a half-century before Israel became a recognized state again in 1948. They may not be God’s people with respect to the gospel, but they are still God’s clock. But please, be careful how you tell time.
The Rapture is Unexpected, Not Dated
Edgar Whisenant, a retired NASA engineer from Little Rock, published a popular pamphlet entitled “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.” Obviously, he was a little off, in more ways than one. So are the multitudes of other date claimers who have appeared on the scene since the reinstatement of the nation of Israel in 1948.
But it is easy to see where the overzealous Whisenant and others went wrong. If a “generation” is forty years, then 1948 plus 40 equals 1988. What if a “generation” is 80 years, what will you be doing in 2028? What if it is the proverbial lifespan of 70 years, with 2018 knocking on the door? Knock it off! Jesus says very plainly, “Concerning that day and hour no one knows.”
While we do not and cannot know the date of the rapture, we do know what the world will look like when it happens. Christians will be completing the task of world evangelization. Jews will be a viable people under yet another threat of extinction. People of the world will consider Bible-believing Christians on the same plane as Noah, who surely was thought to be a nut in his day. The world will be, in the words of Paul Simon, “Working our jobs, collecting our pay, believe we’re gliding down the highway when in fact, we’re slip sliding away.”
We expect the return of Christ but we do not know when to expect Him. We simply believe He has come, for salvation, and will come again, for coronation. When the rapture does occur, it will be public, cataclysmic, and final. God’s people will rise to eternal life, all others will slip and slide away into eternal death.
“Therefore you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Copyright © 2016 Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
Check out the weekly happenings at Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
JANUARY 24, 2016
15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ! ’ or ‘There he is! ’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
— Matthew 24:15-28, ESV
Do you remember the two questions asked by the disciples that occasioned the “Olivet Discourse” (ref. Matthew 24:3)? The disciples wanted to know when the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and they wanted to know what the world would be like when Jesus comes the second time. Jesus’ answer to them is a double entendre which accurately predicts both the end of the Temple, a day which occurred in AD 70, and the end of the world, a day which will occur, although no one knows the exact date.
A key event is introduced in this paragraph that foreshadowed the ends of both the Old Covenant and New Covenant. It occurred about 2,200 years ago, 200 years before the Lord preached this particular sermon on this particular mount. It kicks off a series of four signs of the times that point us to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Abomination of Desolation
The first clear sign that Jesus Christ is about to return is “the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel” (ref. vs. 15). To get the background, see Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11. Then, create an abstract building with an elevator that will stop on all three floors of specific fulfillment.
Daniel spoke of an event that would signify an era of extreme blasphemy and hostility against the God of Israel. I believe his prophecy has been fulfilled and will be fulfilled. History has shown us two fulfillments, and prophecy predicts yet one more, which shoots a flare into the sky signaling the soon second coming of Jesus Christ.
In 168 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanies, one of the rulers over Palestine who bridged the Greek and Roman empires, committed “the abomination of desolation.” He ordered his troops into the Jerusalem Temple, proclaimed himself as god, and sacrificed swine on the altar of the God of Israel. It was abominable, it desolated Jewish worship, and it blasphemed the word of God.
In AD 70, General Titus of the Roman army marched into Jerusalem and committed “the abomination of desolation.” His soldiers carried banners depicting Zeus, their chief god. In the midsts of a wholesale slaughter of Jewish people, they raised their banners in the Jerusalem Temple, looted its contents, and then destroyed it with fire. It was abominable, it desolated Jewish worship, and it blasphemed the word of God, even though the word of God was already being mediated by a new and better covenant, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prophetically, “the abomination of desolation” must be committed again before Christ comes again (ref. 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4; Revelation 13:14). One way this could be fulfilled would be by a modern-day destruction of the nation of Israel, which is horrifically plausible if you take note of current events in the Middle East. I am not a Dispensationalist, but I can see the historic parallels and prophetic relevancy of this interpretation. The Old Covenant has lost its relevancy, but it could be that the Jewish people are still somewhat relevant when it comes to signs of the times of the end of the world.
Another interpretation, broader in scope and directly pertaining to the New Covenant expression of God’s people, the church, would be an age of extreme blasphemy and mockery of God, God’s word, and God’s people. Our generation is the first in Christian history to witness such abominations as an art exhibit depicting a crucifix in a bottle of urine (Andres Serrano), a major motion picture depicting Jesus as sex-starved pervert (Martin Scorsese), a renowned recording artist calling Jesus an enlightened gay man (Elton John), and a leading talk show host mock the Lord’s Supper by proposing a “snackrifice” of potato chips (Stephen Colbert). Serious Christians today are considered dangerous and extremist by this present world. Sexual liberty now triumphs over religious liberty, biblical boundaries for sex and marriage are being erased, and more men and women in pulpits and professorships deny the cardinal doctrines of the faith than affirm them. This, to me, seems to be “the abomination of desolation.”
Such godlessness and attacks upon God’s people have a chilling effect. Jesus calls it “great tribulation” (ref. vs. 21). It has happened and is happening to the Jewish people. It has happened and is happening to the church. It will not stop, until Christ comes again.
The Olivet Discourse concurs with Jesus’ later Revelation to the Apostle John. The world apart from God concocts a beastly system of governments, economies, and religions that cause great trouble, great tribulation, for the people of God. Anti-semitism and the anti-Christ walk hand in hand, or perhaps are two hands of the same beast.
We have seen the day when Antiochus, Titus, and Adolf Hitler considered Jews to be non-human, stripped them of their basic human rights, confiscated their property, destroyed their religious meeting places, and put them to death. We would like to think this horror has ended with the aid of enlightened European and American democracies which provide safe havens for Jewish people, not to mention the recreation of the state of Israel in 1948. But could such a horror happen again? It certainly could, if Europe and America continue to turn their backs on Israel and the mullahs in Iran and ISIS have their way.
What about anti-Christian persecution? It is hard to feel “great tribulation” in a country like the USA, but please remember we are only 5% of the world’s population and a relative dot on the big map of human history. Around the world, more people have been martyred for their faith in Christ in the past century than all the previous centuries combined, and incidents seem to be intensifying. Even in our polite society, Christians are being marginalized and mocked in ways we never could have imagined just a generation ago.
Jews in Palestine fled from Antiochus, Israelis escaped Titus and fled to Pella and Masada, but what are modern Jews and Christians supposed to do? Jews should run to Jesus Christ, the end of the Old Covenant and the Savior of the New Covenant people of God. Christians have nowhere to run, but to Christ, and we must stand our ground even in the face of “great tribulation,” like so many of our brave brothers and sisters have done.
False Christs and Christians
As we urge people to turn to Christ, let us urge them to turn to the right Christ, for there is only one Way, one Truth, and one Life that can bring us safely to the true and living God (ref. John 14:6). For “false Christs and false prophets will arise,” especially in the last days, according to Jesus. They will not be ugly, but impressive. They will not be ineffectual, but do great things and build great organizations. They will not be repulsive, but very persuasive. Many will follow them, straight to eternal destruction.
False messiahs are not limited to religion. It has been determined that Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanies, General Titus, Caesar, Hitler, Lenin, Mao Zedong, and many others who tried to save the world for themselves were no saviors at all. They built and starred on great stages of the world, but died. There have been no reports of their resurrection and ascension to Heaven.
False prophets have arisen through the ages and abound in this present age, promising miracles and wealth and saying little or nothing about the gospel of Jesus Christ. People follow them in droves. Though they boast of great things and pull rabbits out of their hats on stage, yet there are never any scientific verifications of their so-called miracles. Their populist messages, when tried against the pure word of God, are found rife with false promises and heresies.
Here is a sign of the time that has repeatedly flashed in the highways and byways of the world. Christian are called into these same highways and byways to proclaim the true gospel of the true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For those who flee error and embrace gospel truth, The Lord has promised us a kingdom which He has built by His vicarious death and resurrection from the dead. One day, one great day to which all the signs are pointing, He will come again, like lightning.
The last sign of the time in this section of Jesus’ sermon is “lightning.” The “lightning” is a symbol of the certain and swift second “coming of the Son of Man,” the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This fourth sign also serves to comfort and temper believers, while it should scare the, you know what, out of unbelievers.
Go back to the last verse of the previous paragraph. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (ref. Matthew 24:14).
The light of the gospel began in the eastern hemisphere and spread to the western, and now it is going around again. Christ will not come again until the light of the gospel has totally covered the entire earth. Christ will not come again until the last of “the elect” has freely and willingly repented and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the midst of abominations, tribulations, and heresies, there is still time to reach that unreached people group, that lost loved one, that last soul for Christ.
But when that last soul is won, life in Christ will be available no more. Life on this planet, as we now know it, will be over. Nuclear armament will not end it. Global warming will not end it. The second coming of Jesus Christ, fulfilling all prophecies including the outpouring of the wrath of God upon evil and unbelief, will bring out the “vultures” of eternal death. If I were an unbeliever, a nominal Christian, or just a run-of-the-mill pagan, this would instill in me a healthy and serious fear of God, and a concern that the time to be saved by Him could be gone in a flash of “lightning.”
We still have time. Let us not take our time for granted. Let us look around and see that the signs of the times are indeed everywhere. Let us pray with the Apostle John, “Amen, come Lord Jesus” (ref. Revelation 22:12), while we earnestly obey the voice of the Lord to “make disciples of all nations” (ref. Matthew 28:19). We never know when the “lightning” will strike.
Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
JANUARY 10, 2016
1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
— Matthew 24:1-14, ESV
Just as Moses gave us five great books to begin the Old Testament, Matthew gives us five great sermons to begin the New Testament (ref. Matthew 5-7, 10, 13, 18-20, 24-25). The Old Covenant was finally fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus Christ, and the New Covenant era will be completed at the second coming of the Lord. The “Olivet Discourse,” as the fifth sermon in Matthew is commonly called, reveals the ending of both covenants in some graphic detail.
We are living in the last days. We are seeing the beginning of the end. The heavens and the earth are experiencing “birth pains” that will give rise to the new heaven and new earth in due season. This message from the Lord Jesus Christ makes some sense of it all, and we shall look at it in several parts beginning with the “birth pains” described in Matthew 24:1-14.
Modern medicine has changed this to some degree, but historically birth pains experienced by expectant mothers are almost unbearable. Though the ages, the only thing that has made them tolerable is the expectancy of a new child, new life. So it is with the words of Christ in this sermon. He speaks of specific events which bring great discomfort, even death, to human beings, including the elect. It would be unbearable except for the fact that these birth pains will one day give birth to glorified life in Christ, to perfect rest in the new heaven and earth. So let us deal honestly with each birth pain and allow them to give new birth to the hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Maternity Ward
The setting for this sermon is believed to be the Mount of Olives, a genuine olive tree grove that has existed up to this present day just east of the old city of Jerusalem. It is the place of the olive press, or Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed just before going to the cross. It is the place where Christ, His disciples, and other Galilean pilgrims camped during the last Passover before the crucifixion and resurrection. It is the place where our Lord discussed these “birth pains,” in response to two crucial and separate questions asked by the Apostles: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
The questioning involved “these things” Jesus had just declared, namely the destruction of the Jewish Temple. Fall it did, forty years later, when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the focal point of the Old Covenant and ended its validity. Some interpreters think this is the only question addressed in the Olivet Discourse (and by the book of Revelation), but this does not seem to be true. The disciples asked about another parousia, or second coming of the Lord, which Jesus said would not occur until “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.” This did not happen in forty years, and would take at least another two thousand.
The end of the Old Testament age came with the first advent of Jesus and the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The end of the New Testament age will come at the second coming of Jesus Christ. It will be a final, cataclysmic event preceded by many “birth pains.”
The Birth Pains
The birth pains Jesus mentions here are many: spiritual deception or heresy, war and brinkmanship to war, physical and spiritual famine, earthquakes and other “natural” disasters, great tribulation for the church including martyrdom, and anarchy. Anyone could write a treatise on any one of these pains. For the sake of this sermon, however, let me just analyze how one has led to another for the past two millennium.
In one of Jesus’ most definitive statements, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). No other savior nor self will do. If Jesus Christ is not your Lord and Savior, you are lost in a sea of spiritual deception, falsehood, heresy, unbelief. And unbelief is the mother of all other sin.
When we do not love the Lord, we cannot love each other as we should. We take advantage, use, conquer, and dominate one another. When this sentiment becomes national, nation attacks nation, and wars and rumors of wars continually ensue.
The result of unbelief and war is spiritual and physical famine and hardship. One is worse than the other, although the physical is easier to spot than the spiritual. The most moving and graphic photos you will ever see depict the ravages of war or the aftermath of a natural disaster, like an earthquake or a hurricane, more birth pains.
What is harder to see than physical destruction is spiritual danger. It is a famine of the word of God, the absence of gospel truth, spiritual starvation. First, truth is rejected. Then, those who preach it and live by the truth are despised, then outlawed, then attacked. Once truth is effectively removed from society, anarchy and lawlessness takes over. This cycle has repeated itself since the first coming of Jesus, although I do not think it has ever been as focused as in our present day. Can you feel the birth pains all around us?
The Cause of Pain and Suffering
Why must a woman suffer in childbirth? Why must all humans suffer at the hands of false prophets, warmongering politicians, terrible famines, natural disasters, and ungodly persecution? Why does a good and gracious God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?
Let me be short here. The answer is sin, sin, and more sin. Eve sinned against God and invited a curse upon her gender (ref. Genesis 3:16). All men sin against God and suffer enormous repercussions (ref. Roman 3:10, 3:23, 14:23). And God’s gift to mankind of intellectual and moral freedom has resulted in sin upon sin. God does not cause all this pain and suffering. God gave us a choice, and we chose pain when we departed from the Way, ignored and disobeyed the Truth, and failed to take hold of the Life found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Remedy for Death
The bad news is that such sin, and the consequent pain and suffering, is going to continue until Jesus comes again. The worse news is that the punishment for such sin in this life is death and eternal separation from God in the next. The great good news is that, while there is no perfect remedy for preventing sin in the earth, there is redemption from sin before you leave the earth. It is the life-changing, soul-saving, everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is no remedy against pain and suffering in this life. Sin is too pervasive. But there is a remedy for the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and one day even the presence of sin. Repentance towards God and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ is redemption for the penalty of sin. The indwelling Holy Spirit is redemption for the power of sin. And the second coming of Jesus Christ will redeem and take all true believers away from even the presence of sin, forever.
So, how do you know whether or not you are redeemed, saved, a true believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ? By the promised reward.
The Requirement for the Reward
“The one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Jesus did not say the one who walks and aisle and prays a prayer will be saved. Jesus did not say that the one who joins a church and attends services sporadically will be saved. Jesus did not say the one who is satisfied with his or her own spirituality, or lack thereof, will be saved. Jesus said the one with enduring faith, the one who endures in the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ will be saved, period.
Birth pains are the most tragic at stillbirth. I feel so very sorry for all the women who have endured the pain only to be deprived of the great gift of the life of a child. Fortunately it is rare, especially in our day and age, but when it happens it is still the epitome of sadness.
What is not rare in our age is the stillbirth of faith. We all have to experience all the woes mentioned in this text, yet most of us do it without a genuine, evangelical, biblical faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith, for most of us, is non-existent, negligent, hypocritical, or superficial. We go through all the pain and suffering of life, give up on God, only to meet death at the end.
Not so, for those of us who truly believe the gospel. We keep believing. We keep building the battered church. We keep hold of biblical truth, even when it is being attacked by every spirit of the age. We praise God in the sunshine, we praise Him in the storm. We endure to the end. And, we will be saved, never to feel even the slightest birth pain again.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org